Luke 14
Expositor's Greek Testament


And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.
Luke 14:1-24 contain a digest of sayings of Jesus at the table of a Pharisee, this being the third instance in this Gospel of such friendly intercourse between Him and members of the Pharisaic party. The remaining part of the chapter consists of solemn words on self-sacrifice and on counting the cost represented as addressed to the people.

Luke 14:1-6. The dropsical man healed, with relative conversation, in Lk. only (cf. Matthew 12:9-14).

Luke 14:1. ἐν τῷ ἐλθεῖν, etc.: the indication of place and time is very vague so as to lend plausibility to the suggestion that the introduction is extracted from the parabolic speeches, Luke 14:7-24 (Holtzmann, H. C.).—ἀρχόντων τ. φ., the house is described as that of one of the rulers of the Pharisees, an inexact expression, as the Pharisees as such had no rulers, being all on a level. Omitting the article before φαρ. (as in [116]) we might take this word as in apposition and render: one of the rulers, Pharisees; rulers meaning the Sanhedrists, and Pharisees denoting their religious tendency (so Grotius, who therefore thinks the scene was in Jerusalem).—σαββάτῳ φαγεῖν ἄρτον: feasting on Sabbath was common among the Jews, ex pietate et religione (Lightfoot), but the dishes were cold, cooked the day before.—καὶ, introducing the apodosis, and the main fact the suspicious observation of Jesus by those present at the meal (αὐτοὶ). Altogether a strange situation: Jesus the guest of a great man among the Pharisees, as if held in honour, yet there to be watched rather than treated as a friend; simple-hearted geniality on one side, insincerity on the other.

[116] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.
Luke 14:2-6. ὑδρωπικὸς (ὕδρωψ): here only in N.T., a solitary instance of this disease among the healing acts of Jesus. No conceivable reason for its being mentioned except that it was a fact.—ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ, before Him, so that He could not fail to see him; bow there—as guest, as brought by the Pharisees to tempt Jesus, come there of his own motion in hope to be cured, though not asking out of reverence for the Sabbath and in fear of its strict guardians (Euthy. Zig.)—not indicated.

And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
Luke 14:3. ἀποκριθεὶς: Jesus addresses Himself to the double situation; on the one hand a sick man dumbly appealing for help, on the other jealous religionists aware of His free habit and expecting eccentric speech and action open to censure.—ἔξεστιν, etc.: first He asks a question as to the legality of Sabbatic healing in a tone which amounts to an affirmative assertion, allowed to pass uncontradicted (ἡσύχασαν); then He proceeds to answer His own question by healing the man (Luke 14:4), and finally He offers an apology for the act.

And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;
And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
Luke 14:5. τίνος ὑμῶν, etc.: an awkward Hebraistic construction for τίς ὑμῶν οὗ, etc.—υἱὸς ἢ βοῦς, a son or (even) an ox, in either case, certainly in the former, natural instinct would be too strong for artificial Sabbatic rules.—φρέαρ, a well, or cistern, an illustration as apt to the nature of the malady as that of the ox loosed from the stall in Luke 13:15 (Godet).—εὐθέως, at once, unhesitatingly, without thought of Sabbath rules. The emphasis lies on this word.

And they could not answer him again to these things.
Luke 14:6. οὐκ ἰσ. ἀνταποκριθῆναι (again in Romans 9:20): silenced but of course not convinced. The difference in the way of thinking too great to be overcome in a moment.

Luke has three Sabbath cures. The present one has no very distinctive features. The accumulation may point to a desire to help weak Christians to get above their scruples by an appeal to the Master (Schanz). In the first and second cases the principle of Christ’s defence is indicated: it is lawful to do good (Luke 6:9); you may do for a man, a fortiori, what it is lawful to do for a beast (Luke 13:15). In the present case it is not indicated. It may be: you may do for another what you all do for your own, son or ox (Meyer, J. Weiss); or if need is a valid plea in any case, it is valid in all cases (Schanz).

And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,
Luke 14:7-11. Take the lowest seat. Here begins the table talk of Jesus, consisting of three discourses. The first addressed to the guests in general is really a parable teaching the lesson of humility pointed in Luke 14:11. “Through the medium of a counsel of prudence relating to ordinary social life He communicates a lesson of true wisdom concerning the higher sphere of religion” (The Parabolic Teaching of Christ).

Luke 14:7. ἐπέχων, observing. Euthy. renders: μεμφόμενος, blaming, in itself a legitimate meaning but not compatible with πῶς. The practice observed—choosing the chief places—was characteristic of Pharisees (Matthew 23:6), but it is a vice to which all are prone.

When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;
Luke 14:8. γάμους, a marriage feast, here representing all great social functions at which ambition for distinction is called into play.—ἐντιμότερός σου: this does not necessarily denote one of known superior social standing, but may mean simply one held in more honour by the host (Hahn).

And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
Luke 14:9. ἐλθὼν ὁ, etc.: the guests are supposed to have taken their places before the host comes in.—ἄρξῃ: the shame would be most acutely felt at the beginning of the movement from the highest to the lowest place (Meyer).—τ. ἔσχατον τ., the lowest place just vacated by the honoured guest, who is humble in spirit though highly esteemed, who therefore in his own person exemplifies the honour and glory of being called up by the host from the lowest to the highest place.

But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
Luke 14:10. προσανάβηθι ἀνώτερον: “go up higher,” A.V[117] and R.V[118]; better “come up higher,” which gives effect to the πρός. The master invites the host to come towards himself. So Field (Ot. Nor.).

[117] Authorised Version.

[118] Revised Version.

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.
Luke 14:12-14. A word to the host, also parabolic in character in so far as it gives general counsel under a concrete particular form (Hahn), but not parabolic in the strict sense of teaching spiritual truth by natural examples.

Luke 14:12. φωνεῖν used for καλεῖν in Hellenistic Greek (Farrar, C. G. T.), denoting formal ceremonious invitation as on a great occasion (Hahn).—τοὺς φίλους, etc.: four classes likely to be asked on ordinary social grounds are named—personal intimates, brethren, relations (these two form one category), and rich neighbours. The epithet πλουσίους belongs to the last class alone. Friends and relatives are called because they are such. Mere neighbours are called only because they are rich, or, more generally, socially important.—μήποτε, lest, presenting return invitations (ἀντικαλεῖν, here only in N.T.) as an object of dread, a fear unknown to the world. (Hic metus mundo ignotus, Bengel.)

But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
Luke 14:13. δοχὴν, the same word used by Lk. in reference to the feast in Levi’s house, which was a gathering of the sort here recommended by Jesus.—μακάριος, here and always denoting rare virtue and felicity = the pleasure of doing a kindness not to be repaid, except at the resurrection of the just, or by the joy that every really beneficent action brings now.—τῶν δικαίων: in specifying the righteous as the subjects of the resurrection the Speaker has no intention of indicating an opinion as to the unrighteous: whether they rise at all, or when.

And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
Luke 14:15-24. The great feast (cf. Matthew 22:1-14), very naturally introduced by the pious reflection of a guest whose religious sentiment had been touched by the allusion to the resurrection-felicity of the just. Like many other pious observations of the conventional type it did not amount to much, and was no guarantee of genuine godliness in the speaker. The parable expresses this truth in concrete form, setting forth that many care less for the Kingdom of God and its blessings than they seem to care, and teaching that these will be offered to those who do care indeed.

Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
Luke 14:16-20. ἐκάλεσεν: it was a great feast and many were asked, with a long invitation.

And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
Luke 14:17. εἰπεῖν τοῖς κεκλημένοις: a second invitation according to Eastern custom still prevailing (Rosenmüller, Morgenland, ver .192; Thomson, Land and Book, vol. i. chap. ix.).

And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
Luke 14:18. ἀπὸ μιᾶς (supply γνώμης, ψυχῆς, ὥρας, or some such word implying with one mind, or at one time, or in the same manner, here only in Greek literature), with one Consent.—παραιτεῖσθαι: not to refuse, but in courteous terms to excuse themselves.—ὁ πρῶτος, the first; of three, simply samples, by no means exhausting the list of possible excuses.—ἀγρὸν ἠγόρασα: a respectable excuse, by no means justifying absence, but excellently exemplifying preoccupation, the state of mind common to all. A man who has purchased a farm is for a while very much taken up with it and makes himself very busy about it; everything else for the moment secondary.—ἔχω ἀνάγκην: no fewer than three Latinisms have been found in this sentence; this, the use of ἐρωτῶ in the sense of rogo, and ἔχε με παρῃτημένον (Grotius). But parallels can be found in Greek authors for the first. Kypke cites an instance of the second from Josephus. The third, if not a Latinism (Meyer and J. Weiss say no, Schanz and Hahn yes), is at least exactly = excusatum me habeto.

And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
Luke 14:19. ἕτερος, another; his excuse is also highly respectable, though nothing more than a decent excuse; the preoccupation very real, though the apology lame. Five yoke of oxen a very important purchase in the owner’s eyes.

And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
Luke 14:20. γυναῖκα ἔγημα: most presentable excuse of all, therefore offered sans phrase; preoccupation this time intense, and surely pardonable? In the natural sphere these are likely forms of preoccupation, but not necessarily either the only, or even the chief in the spiritual sphere, or those which kept the lawyers and Pharisees from accepting the teaching of Jesus. Their prepossessions were religious and theological.

Not only these three but all decline to come. In the natural sphere this is highly improbable and unexampled. Jesus, from no fault on His part as a parable artist, had to make improbable suppositions to exemplify the fact in the spiritual sphere, which in this instance was that the bulk of the Jewish people were indifferent to the Kingdom as He presented it. On the other hand, in the parables spoken in justification of His own conduct, the case put has the highest measure of probability. Vide, e.g., those in next chapter.

So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
Luke 14:21-24. The sequel.

Luke 14:21. The servant has done his duty and returns to make his strange report.—ὀργισθεὶς, enraged; no wonder.—ἔξελθε ταχέως, go out quickly; no time to be lost, as all things are ready, but the thing chiefly to be noted is how the word answers to the master’s mood—πλατείας καὶ ῥύμας, broad streets and narrow lanes (Matthew 6:2, q.v.); all sorts of people to be met with there and many of them: invitation to be broadcast, no one to be shunned however poor or unsightly; the poor, maimed, blind, and halt rather to be preferred, therefore expressly named—such is the master’s mood in his disgust at the behaviour of the well-to-do, propertied, happy classes—a violent but natural reaction.

And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
Luke 14:22. ἔτι τόπος ἐστί, yet there is room, places for more; many more, else the servant would hardly think it worth while to mention the fact, though he quite understands that the master wants the banqueting hall filled, were it only to show that he can do without those saucy recusants. Room after such a widespread miscellaneous invitation speaks to a feast on a grand scale, worthy emblem of the magnificence of Divine grace.

And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
Luke 14:23. ὁδοὺς καὶ φραγμοὺς, “highways and hedges”; the main roads and the footpaths running between the fields, alongside of the hedges (Hahn); these, in the country, answering to the streets and lanes in the town. The people to be found there are not necessarily lower down socially than those called within the city, perhaps not so low, but they are without, representing in the interpretation the Gentiles.—ἀνάγκασον, compel; reflects in the first place the urgent desire of the master to have an absolutely full house, in the second the feeling that pressure will be needed to overcome the incredulity of country people as to the invitation to them being meant seriously. They would be apt to laugh in the servant’s face.—ἵνα γεμισθῇ: the house must be full, no excuse to be taken; but for a curious reason.

For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
Luke 14:24. ὅτι οὐδεὶς, etc.: to keep out the first invited in case they should change their minds. Of course this is spoken by the master, and is no comment of Jesus, though we read ὑμῖν where we expect σοι, the application to the hearers of the parable intruding itself at this one point. The reason of the master for wishing his house filled is not a high one. But the ethics of parables belong to this world. They must not be transferred into the spiritual sphere.

And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
Luke 14:25-35. Concio ad populum. Jesus now appears on the way, and followed by “many multitudes” (ὄχλοι πολλοί, Luke 14:25) to whom He speaks. Thus sayings which in Mt. and Mk. form part of disciple-instruction (διδαχή) assume the character of popular preaching, as in the case of the Sermon on the Mount (in Lk.), though the subject is the conditions of discipleship.

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:26-27. The requirements of true discipleship (Matthew 10:37-39).

Luke 14:26. ἔρχεται πρός με, cometh to me, with a view to close and permanent discipleship.—μισεῖ: a stronger word than that used in Mt., where it is a question of loving less; surprising in Lk., whose general habit is to soften hard sayings. But the logion is presented in different lights in the two Gospels. In Mt. it is a question of being a disciple worthy of the Master (ἄξιος); in Lk. of being an effective disciple (οὐ δύναται). Love of friends makes discipleship difficult or impossible; on the other hand, hatred makes it easy. It is easy to be devoted to a master or cause when you hate all rival masters or interests. Therefore “hates” is the appropriate word here, but the practical meaning is love less, which in experience signifies: hating other objects of affection in so far as they present themselves as hindrances to the supreme love of the Master.—τὴν γυναῖκα, (not in Mt.): to be most “hated” just because most loved, and excercising the most entangling influence.—ἔτι τε καὶ, and moreover. The τε ([119] [120]) binds all the particulars named into one bundle of renuncianda.—ψυχήν, life, oneself, most loved of all, therefore forming the climax, and also determining the sense of μισεῖ. The disciple is to hate friends as he can hate himself—“secundam eam partem, secundum quam se ipsum odisse debet, a Christo aversam” (Bengel). This last item in the list of things to be hated represents the idea contained in Matthew 10:39.

[119] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[120] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with א and B.

And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:27 = Matthew 10:38, with the idea of ability substituted for the idea of worth.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Luke 14:28-33. Parables illustrating the need of counting the cost, peculiar to Lk., but intrinsically probable as sayings of Jesus, and thoroughly germane to the foregoing discourse. The connection is: It is a serious thing to be a disciple, therefore consider well before you begin—the renunciations required, the cross to be borne—as you would, if wise, consider before building a tower or engaging in battle.

Luke 14:28. θέλων: conditional participle, “if he wish”; with the article it would = who wishes.—πύργον, a tower; need not be magnified into a grand house with a tower. Doubtless, as Bengel remarks, Christianity is a great and arduous affair, and is fitly compared cum rebus magnis et arduis. But the greatness of the undertaking is sufficiently represented by the second parable: the first emblem may be allowed to be less ambitious and more within the reach of ordinary mortals. A tower of observation in a vineyard (Matthew 21:33) or for refuge in danger, or for ornament in a garden may be thought of.—καθίσας: the attitude appropriate to deliberate, leisurely consideration.—δαπάνην, the cost, here only in N.T.—εἰ ἔχει εἰς ἀ., if he has what is necessary for (τὰ δέοντα understood).—ἀπαρτισμόν = for completion, here only in N.T. and in Dion. Halic.; condemned by Phryn., p. 447. Cf. ἐξηρτισμένος in 2 Timothy 3:17.

Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
Luke 14:29. ἐμπαίζειν, to mock; an unfinished tower is specially ridiculous: height is essential.—οὗτος, etc., this man, contemptuously; “this” stands for a proper name. “Vulgo ponunt N. N.,” Bengel. Jesus here appeals with characteristic tact to one of the most sensitive feelings of human nature—shrinking from ridicule. Who would care to be spoken of all his days as the man who commenced a tower and could not finish it?

Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Luke 14:31-33. The king going to fight. This is the affair of the few, a parable to be laid to heart by men aspiring to, or capable of, a grand career.—συμβαλεῖν εἰς πόλεμον, to encounter in war (R.V[121]). or perhaps better “to fight a battle” (Field, Ot. Nor.). πόλεμον is so rendered in 1 Corinthians 14:8, Revelation 9:9, in A.V[122] (altered in R.V[123] into “war”). In Homer the idea of battle prevails, but in later writers that of war.—ἐν δέκα, in, with, in the position of one who has only 10,000 soldiers at comma d.—μετὰ εἴκοσι: to beat 20,000 with 10,000 is possible, but it is an unlikely event: the chances are against the king with the smaller force, and the case manifestly calls for deliberation. The implied truth is that the disciple engages in a very unequal conflict. Cf. St. Paul, “we wrestle against principalities,” etc., Ephesians 6:12. A reference in this parable to the relations between Herod Antipas (the “fox”) and Aretas, his father-in-law, is possible (Holtzmann, H. C.).

[121] Revised Version.

[122] Authorised Version.

[123] Revised Version.

Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:33 gives the applicatio of the parable. Hofmann, Keil, and Hahn divide the sentence into two, utting a full stop after ὑμῶν and rendering: “So then every one of you! (do the same thing, i.e., consider). He who does not renounce all he hath is not able to be a disciple of mine.” This is very effective; it may have been what Jesus actually said; but it is hardly how Lk. reports His words. Ha he meant the sentence to be read so he would have put γὰρ after ὃς. He runs the two supposed sentences into one, and so the counsel to deliberate is left out or latent in the requirement of renunciation, which is the reason for deliberation.

Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
Luke 14:34-35. The saying concerning salt (Matthew 5:13, Mark 9:50). This logion may have been repeatedly uttered by Jesus, but it does not seem to be so appropriate here as in its place in Mk. In this place the salt appears to denote disciples and the idea to be: genuine disciples are an excellent thing, valuable as salt to a corrupt world, but spurious disciples are as utterly worthless as salt which has lost its savour.

It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Luke 14:35. οὔτε εἰς γῆν οὔτε εἰς κοπρίαν, neither for land nor for dung (is it fit, εὔθετον as in Luke 9:62). The idea seems to be that savourless salt is neither earth nor manure.—ἔξω is emphatic = out they cast it, as worthless, good for nothing, mere refuse, a waste substance.

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